Lovesick Fantasy has been on my radar for a little while, so once it released I was more than excited. It was funny because I was aware of both KiLoSo and The Lazer Panther but I didn’t realize they were one in the same until we started chatting ahead of this release. It was a big Homer Simpson “d’oh” headslap moment! Luckily I never revealed my informational faux pas to The Lazer Panther, in fact he’s finding out right now as he reads this along with everyone else. I thought it was a funny story and a perfect way to break the ice before we dig into Lovesick Fantasy.
Cherry Shade is the first track you’re going to hear, and it is right up my alley. The harmonies are just right, and more so, the percussion is not your typical run of the mill “drum machine.” No, a lot of time and effort was spent on this and you can tell. April 26th keeps things going with a futuristic chip-tune sound and more of that excellent percussion, which is really the highlight here…it’s certainly the backbone of the song. Unspoken, Early features an artist that should be well known to my regular readers, Ethereal Delusions. Let me tell you right now, this track is made of PURE FIRE! Go ahead and stop reading now and add this song to your summer playlist…I’ll wait until you get back to continue. All done? I cannot tell you enough how much I love this song. It’s almost as if it were made from all the raw ingredients that make up the summer. Just when you think KiLoSo can’t possibly keep the pedal to the floor, the bass line for Fox Island Blessing kicks in. If you weren’t moving before, you will be now. Echoing claps in the background, off kilter staccato keys, and warm synths all lend a hand to this brilliant piece of work.
Templars, To Arms transitions us into the second half of Lovesick Fantasy. It builds like an arcade machine that’s just been turned on…lights flickering to life, music working its way through the menus, and the need to play the game grows with each passing second. Kairi blends hip-hop influenced beats and a wide variety of sounds to create one of the most unique tracks on the album. It’s a slow burn that builds until it reaches its crescendo and then vanishes into silence. The Hawk Moth, other than being a really cool song title, continues to push boundaries. There’s a lot of experimentation here and I loved every second of it. In fact, it might just be my favorite song on Lovesick Fantasty, just for the fact that nobody, and I mean nobody, is writing music like this. Hollow Chains, featuring Lyoko, closes things out on an uptempo note…which is smart. It keeps you wanting more. It’s yet another single-worthy song on an already stacked release. Get ready to press repeat!
Lovesick Fantasy is available right now from the always quality TimeSlave Recordings. As of this writing there were a handful of very limited edition cassettes left, so head over Bandcamp and snag one before they’re all gone. Digital copies are always available if that’s what you prefer, and the price is right for such an amazing summer release.
Now that we’ve explored KiLoSo’s Lovesick Fantasy, let’s talk to the man behind it all, The Lazer Panther!
For those who don’t know already, who is The Lazer Panther, and what are the musical fronts you’re involved in?
Who is The Lazer Panther? That’s a question I’ve asked myself a lot, actually. The best way I can describe The Lazer Panther is that it’s the culmination of all my creative energy and drive. When I get involved in a project, I stop being the person I was born as. I can be a pretty distracted person, but when I get in that mode, in that zone, where I am wholly focused on whatever the current project is, that’s when I stop being myself and I become The Lazer Panther.
The name came from one weekend back home when I had set up my entire studio in my living room. I had several TVs, VCRs, DVD players, and computers hooked up and there were 10 or so of us, including myself making live scores to whatever film or TV show being shown. It was about 3 in the morning and my friend and I were working to the show ‘Beast Wars’ and just groovin’ to it. When we were done recording the tracks to the VHS, I thought to myself ‘What would a grandparent mistakenly call this show?’ and The Lazer Panther came to my mind. During that weekend, I ended up being awake 72 hours and went skinny dipping in my neighbors pond at 6 in the morning. Good times. Anyways, it was that feeling I got just being totally zen with my friends and the music we were making. I wanted to attach that to my music. Plus it sounds dope haha.
Currently, I’m involved in the new generation of synthwave artists. I wouldn’t personally classify my music as pure synthwave, but subconsciously my music has that nostalgic, 80s tinge to it. I’ve played in a few groups, nothing concrete though. My friends and I used to jam in this garage in the middle of nowhere. We all loved Sonic Youth and Death From Above 1979 and the Butthole Surfers so we’d play that kind of heavy music. We also were huge into the 2000s Houston hip hop scene, which is one of my biggest influences still. We loved stuff like DJ Screw, Young Jeezy, Big Mello, Bun B, Z-Ro, and Slim Thug. We eventually started making our own chopped and screwed sets and we’d just play them for each other and whoever else was hanging out. We also loved early horrorcore stuff like Mystic Stylez by Three Six Mafia.
I see my music as being very hip hop inspired, but also very much inspired by the noisey rock I listened to as well. I loved the raw feel that DFA1979 had, but also that drugged, creepy, nighttime feel of the Houston rappers we were listening to. I’ve been told my music is very much darkwave, which I think fits. Artist like SALEM, White Ring, Balam Acab, Crystal Castles, Clams Casino, and HEALTH achieve the style of music that I one day hope to pull off. My music isn’t the most unique, but I think I have some interesting ideas and I’m willing to give it effort.
You’ve finished your new album. What can you tell us about it?
Yeah, I recently finished my EP ‘Lovesick Fantasy.’ It was my first time actually trying to assemble tracks to fit a particular tone or mood. I made most of the tracks at a time in my life of conflict, like a lot of artists. I had these feelings inside of me that were eating away and I needed to get them out. The record to me is about longing for something or someone, but not being in a position to express that. These tracks were my way of making these intangible things into something real. I tried to not get too comfortable in one style. There’s some ambient hip hop, there’s distorted punk, there’s my attempts at pure synthwave, but then there are these wall of sound, end of the world sounding tracks as well. I wanted this EP to show the beauty of things, even in the darkness.
What has it been like working with TimeSlave Recordings?
Working with TimeSlave has been incredible. When Vince reached out to me, I was just making music in my bedroom, not really thinking about how I was going to put them out or where. It was after I got to know everyone in the label that I felt my juices flowing again and could only think about making music. From the moment I hopped on board, I felt accepted by everyone. Seeing people in the group put out these amazing tracks really inspired me to dial in on my sound and challenge myself. All of us are able to bounce things off of each other and get honest opinions on what we’re working on, which can be hard to find as musicians. Being with TimeSlave has been one of the best things that has happened to me. Shouts out.
You also have a collaboration coming out soon with Ethereal Delusions. What has that been like?
Oh my, the collab I have coming out with Ethereal Delusions is gonna be so hot. He is my brother in law, as well as 1/3 of the Quixotic BPM art collective with me and my sister, so we have been collaborating on music for awhile now, sending tracks back and forth and collaborating in the studio. We recorded some tracks under the group name Holy Shannon with Dani Faith. Ethereal Delusions makes radically different music, tonally, than I do, but when we get into that work hustle, it’s like blending bananas and coffee together, it’s fantastic. The album is called ‘D A Y | N I G H T’ to reflect how his music is the sunshine and my sunset. I’m the after party to his beach party. The whole things started off as a kind of joke, this idea of making a concept album about a day long party that we both ended up really getting into. We’re releasing the entire project July 4th as part of the Summer of Synth. I’m super excited for everyone to hear what we’ve been cooking up.
What is the recording process like for you? Do you have a set idea when you go into a project or do you let things flow?
Man, my recording process is a mess. I usually start out with a bassline or percussion loop in my head and as I’m trying to construct that, I start hearing leads and other parts in the negative space. About 50% of the time when I start getting the parts I had in my head laid out, the song has become a whole different beast than what I had imagined. During those times, I just go with the flow and try to stretch my original concepts. There are times, however, that I have a solid idea that I HAVE to lay out exactly like what I originally thought of. I become so obsessed with whatever it is I’m working on and find it difficult to focus on anything else. Sometimes I’ll spend 3 days only listening to a 30 second loop I’ve made, trying to really nail down the feeling I want. I don’t sleep much, so I’m usually up late into the night working on a track or a stem of a track. I try to not force myself into being creative and in times of writers block, I try to consume media and art in order to find that inspiration again.
Where did your love of music come from?
My love of music came from my childhood. My father has this eclectic taste in music and whether we would be outside fixing something or in the car, he always had music playing. Even when we didn’t have a radio in the car, he would sing these stupid songs to entertain us, as well as himself. There would be days where he would have one song that he would obsess over (one most infamous incident was over the repeated listening of Link Wray’s song Rumble early in the morning) or he would listen to a loud, banging track by the Who and immediately listen to The Carpenters. I started cutting my teeth on the music he enjoyed. It’s his enthusiasm for quality production and nuances in tracks that I latched on to. He loves the Beach Boys and helped show me the intricacies of the harmonies and composition that Brian Wilson and the band created. Their wall of sound, densely layered production style is heavily represented in my music. My sister was also a big influence on my love of music. She introduced me to hip hop, r’n’b, modern rock, and pop. She listened to whatever she liked, regardless of whether or not it was widely accepted or not.
Where do you see synthwave headed as a genre?
There’s so many ways that synthwave is moving in right now, I honestly think it’s hard to pin one particular direction. The genre has splintered off from being exclusively tropical vibe or Terminatorwave. It’s almost like that game Katamari Damacy, the more the ball has been rolling, the more influences it’s picking up. I think some of the more hip hop inspired synthwave sounds really interesting though, maybe just because I’m a huge rap head. Pop music is starting to wear some of its synthwave influences on it’s sleeve, which is like some kind of weird musical ouroboros. Ultimately, I think right now the sky is the limit as far as where the genre could go and that’s very exciting to see.
When you aren’t writing music, what do you do for fun?
A bit of my free time is spent gaming. I have always loved video games, but it wasn’t until a few years ago that I got to start experiencing the modern era of gaming. When I was a kid, we had 56k dial-up and the most badass IBM computer with Windows ’98 on it, so I played a lot of Starcraft, Diablo, the Sims, and Dark Forces 2. Eventually though, we stopped getting internet and that’s when I turned to music production to stave off boredom. It wasn’t until I moved to the West Coast that I had modern, high speed internet. Ethereal Delusions and I spent a lot of the first 3 months after we moved playing GTAV and Payday 2 on my PS3. It was when the online component of GTAV was added that I met the group of friends that I have now. We call ourselves the ‘Templars of Oak’ and we spend most of our time roasting each other and griefing each other in games. You can catch us online trying to get buses to the top of Chilliad. Drawing and making glitch art also has been a big thing for me in the past few years. I’m also a big movie and TV fan. If I’m not doing any of that, I’m listening to music. I have to have music playing at all times.
Worst concert you’ve ever been to?
Hmm, that’s a tough one. I’ve been to a lot of bad concerts, but mostly because I thrive on weird and awkward situations. I used to frequent a lot of local screamo shows and I respect the bands’ hustle, but a lot of it was just angsty teens screaming incoherently. The worst concert I’ve been to was this alt rock fest that this local radio station would put on called “X Fest” and it had Shinedown, Alter Bridge, and a bunch of generic rock bands. At one point during Alter Bridge’s set, a fight broke out in front of us in the lawn and the entire place was watching this brawl go down. Alter Bridge literally left midway through their set because no one was paying attention to them. Smashing Pumpkins was the closer and their show was fantastic, but 8+ hours of bad bands left it’s mark.
What’s on the horizon for you?
Right now, I’m preparing my second EP and I’ve been doing a lot of drawing. Every week I try to get at least 1 track halfway complete so I can go back later and see which ones stick with me and which ones to scrap. I’ve got a track that’s going to be featured on the upcoming TimeSlave compilation ‘Future Sounds 2’ which is shaping up to be an amazing album, regardless of the fact that I’m on it. Like you mentioned earlier, I have the collaboration album with Ethereal Delusions, ‘D A Y | N I G H T’ coming out July 4th. I’ve been working nonstop on new material and can’t wait to get more of my music out there for people to listen to.
Anyone you’d like to thank or shout out?
I’d like to give a huge shout out to my sister Rhonda for being there to be the push that I need. I have a lot of ideas and aspirations, but she’s always been there to give me that nudge I need to actually start doing work. Without her, I doubt I would be anywhere with my art. I also have to thank Ethereal Delusions for inspiring me with his drive and passion for his music. Every time he sends me a new track he’s working on, it makes me want to start working on my own track. He’s been one of the biggest supporters of my art and I can’t wait to see what the future has in store for him. Shouts out to my parents Randy and Becky for also letting me be my own person and supporting me in my pursuit of whatever. My father taught me to be passionate about what I’m doing and my mother instilled in me my work ethic. She’s always doing something, she’s never idle, even in her downtime. Obviously I owe everything to them and their unconditional love. I want to give a huge shout out to Pamela for being there for me with unconditional love and support. You’re one of the realest, kindest, most beautiful people I’ve ever met and you mean the world to me. I love you so much. I can’t wait to see you again. My roommate Chris (CJB) has also been a big factor in my life. He makes homebrew beer and his passion for beer matches my passion for music. He also has great taste in music, which is great because he will turn me onto new music all of the time. Shouts out to the Templars (Veno, Pro, PC, Max, Spawn, Cable, James) for being true homies. Praise the true god Oak! I want to give a shout out to all of my friends back home (James, Matt, Austen, Tim, Aaron, Chris) that came together and helped jump start my creative side. Whether we were making chopped and screwed mixtapes, playing loud, shitty garage rock, or making videos, we pushed each other to search for the limits of our abilities and go beyond them. If it wasn’t for James Danger (Milliway), who showed me FL Studios way back in 2007, I would have never gotten into music production. Dude is a genius and I want more music from him. Again, everyone at TimeSlave for the opportunity to release my music and to be apart of something. Lastly, I want to thank you. Even before I had tracks out, you were very personable to me. I also would like to thank you for this interview. I love your content and it’s so cool to now be a part of that!